Mariners Manager Scott Servais Cannot Stick to Bullpen Status Quo
The Seattle Mariners were 9 outs away from sweeping a 2 game mini-series against the Houston Astros. Then, Manager Scott Servais made a decision that may have cost his team that opportunity.
If you follow us on Twitter (@SodoMojoFS), you already know the decision I am referring to and how it may have cost the Mariners a game. But if you don’t let’s begin our discussion with a game of hypothetical thought. Ready? Let’s begin.
The Mariners are battling late in a game and have a 1 run lead. The next 3 hitters include 2 All-Stars, a young, budding superstar, and an MVP. Quick, who do you want pitching in that situation? If you said Edwin Diaz, you win. Did you think of Alex Colome? We will take that as well.
What I am willing to bet is that none of you instantly thought of Juan Nicasio. Why is that? Probably because I didn’t tell you it was the 7th inning. But, why should that change your answer? It shouldn’t, but it almost certainly entered Manager Scott Servais’ mind.
Servais clearly wants to have Nicasio pitch the 7th, Colome the 8th and Diaz the 9th. This is a problem. In fact, it could devolve into a big one. It is a logical fallacy that cripples many managers and appears to do the same to Scott Servais. The fallacy? That the bullpen must know their roles to be successful. It’s the best way to win baseball games.
If this is the case, why do managers forgo roles in the playoffs? We see guys who close all year long come into the game in the 6th. We see starters pitch out of the bullpen. Why are roles mandatory in-season, but completely worthless in the postseason? The simplest answer is because roles are largely BS.
More from SoDo Mojo
- 2023 Steamer Projections: Teoscar Hernandez could see a drop in Seattle
- Could the Mariners Acquire AL Batting Champion, Luis Arraez?
- Steamer Projections: Julio Rodriguez to enter rarified air in 2023
- What if the Mariners traded FOR Tyler O’Neill this time?
- Mariners starting pitching is being overlooked by MLB
Scott Servais has more or less refused to use Diaz before the 9th inning since he became closer in the middle of the 2016 season. Why? The Mariners and Servais believe that Diaz has to know exactly what situation he will be used for, or he can’t possibly be mentally prepared for it.
So I guess when Aaron Judge is up with the bases loaded in a 1 run game in the 7th this October, you won’t see Diaz? Really?
But I’ll even play along with this moronic train of thought. Let’s say that I agree that Diaz has to pitch in the ninth or he will explode. Where is Alex Colome? A bona fide, late-inning arm, who was magically able to change roles without any dip in production, who hasn’t thrown in 2 days?
No, against the heart of the Astros order in a 1 run game, Servais opts instead for his 3rd or 4th best reliever, then, trailing by just 1, who does Servais bring in? A rested Diaz or Colome? No, a pitcher who is, at best, the 5th best guy in your pen. And as Altavilla exits the mound giving up 2 more runs, the game is over.
Now, in fairness to Servais and Nicasio, Juan did make quality pitches that the Astros just hit. It happens, especially when you can stack as many quality hitters in a lineup as Houston can. And perhaps, Colome or Diaz comes in and blow. It’s possible, right?
Of course, it is. But which is more likely? Juan Nicasio limits contact against the top of the Astros lineup, or Edwin Diaz/Alex Colome do? You know the answer.
I cannot unequivocally say that Scott Servais cost his team a win. But what I can say, without any doubt in my mind, is that he did not put his team in the best position to win this game against the defending world champs, and the team chasing you in the standings.
Next: Mariners Trade a Day: Kirby Yates
So what is the solution? Well, I am willing to meet Servais, and many of you, halfway on this. You only want Diaz to pitch the ninth? Okay. But if that is the case, you need use Colome as your “closer” before the ninth. Anytime, whether it be the 5th inning or 8th inning, the outcome of the game is at its most perilous, bring in Colome. It really can be that simple.